If aliens were to come to earth the first thing I’d say is “please don’t eat us!” and if they didn’t eat us I’d ask if they could help me understand Charles Sanders Peirce. And if they granted me that understanding I would spend the rest of my days as a monk, traveling from college campus to college campus passing on their wisdom to 4th years struggling to finish their semiotics class.
That Charles Peirce joke is hacky. Every Liberal Studies major has made or heard that joke. Not my particular form but the basic joke is “Charles Peirce is hard to understand.” I wonder if the joke itself is a representamen of the sign that I am a Liberal Studies major. Or is it a representamen of me saying “I’m smart!”? I suppose it’s up to the interpretant.
At this point, we can stop the blog and everyone can have a seat, sip on a tincture of laudanum, and fan themselves in the parlor. That opening paragraph has literally nothing to do with the rest of this blog.
If aliens were to come to earth the first thing I would want to know is how but I’m sure that their answer would be beyond my comprehension. So, instead, I’d probably ask something like “can you please explain why I have Arsenal induced bipolar disorder?”
How can I go from one day feeling like Wilshere’s Arsenal career is over to the next day thinking that Wilshere will be like the 6 Million Dollar Man and Bournemouth will rebuild him stronger, faster, better! And then the next day I’ll think about Wilshere and be like ‘yeah, but… if he gets good again, where is he going to play? Not in the Ozil role. So, just a replacement for Cazorla? Is he good enough to do that? Can he regain the form he had when he was 19 and bossed the midfield against Barcelona? Why do I think these days are gone for him?’
I can do this all day.
For example, look at our three signings. On the one hand, I am excited to see Arsenal finally spending some money and getting in three players in much-needed positions. Doubling down on that positivity, Mustafi is a German international and Xhaka is one of the most cultured center mids in world football. Meanwhile, I also believe that Lucas will get Arsenal at least 15 goals this season. He might not be the kind of player who is going to blow up the bunkered defenses Arsenal face but once Arsenal have the lead, or on every corner, you can count on him to give opposition defenders brown trousers. With Walcott, Alexis, Iwobi, and Giroud, Perez adds depth to Arsenal’s attack.
On the other hand… we had to spend that £100m, that was the minimum that we needed to spend to rebuild the team after Arteta’s legs left and after Wenger benched Mertesacker* and simultaneously discovered that Gabriel isn’t up to the task of being Arsenal’s full time starting center half. Most of the money spent this summer was just filling massive holes and if we look at the squad logically, right now, we have to see some familiar problems.
- Who will replace Cazorla when he gets injured this year?
- Who will replace Özil when he gets injured this year?
- Who will replace Xhaka when he gets injured this year?
- Who will replace Koscielny when he gets injured this year?
- Who will replace Giroud when he gets injured/goes through one of his famous dry spells?
The answer to questions 1 to 3 is, of course, Elneny, Ramsey, and Coquelin. But that answer begs another question, are they actually good enough? And yet another question, how do they all play together?
I think they are actually good enough. It’s the second question that starts up the depressing side of my Arsenal Bipolar Disorder.
Even assuming Ramsey stays fit for more than a few games at a time we saw that trio start against Liverpool and it was a disaster. Don’t even try to sugar coat it. Elneny and Ramsey abandoned their defensive duties and Liverpool cut poor Coquelin to shreds. The whole midfield dynamic in that match was appaling: no one could collect the ball under pressure from Liverpool, no one could get the ball forward, spaces were simply abandoned, triangles were straight lines with two sides, and even before Liverpool scored their fourth it felt like Arsenal were in for another one of those 8-2 losses. It’s no surprise that when Arsene brought in Xhaka and Cazorla the game opened up and we nearly pulled off an amazing comeback.
I can already hear the responses… “It’s early in the season, Tim. Wenger didn’t have much time to work with these guys. It’s just one game. This is totally unfair.”
Wait a minute, though. Wenger has had Elneny in training every day for the last six months. He’s had Coquelin for two years. And Ramsey has been an Arsenal player since he was 18 years old. These aren’t new players. The Arsenal system isn’t insanely complex. And the Liverpool press is not insanely complex either. This isn’t Pep Guardiola level football, folks. Moreover, these are all 25-year-old professional footballers. Did they go away this summer and forget how to play football?
After the match, Wenger said something that I found literally incredible.
The second one is that physically we are not capable of maintaining the level, because not all the players have the same level of preparation. Maybe we lacked a bit of experience but if you look well at the goals, I don’t think it was necessarily the inexperienced players that cost us the goals today.
The Liverpool goals were scored in the 18 minutes after half-time. That “same level of preparation” stuff followed a comment about not getting all the players back in time from Euros. But it wasn’t Ramsey and Alexis who struggled to put in a shift closing down the Liverpool midfield, it was Elneny and Coquelin.
But that whole comment is pretty poor from the manager. He knows that it was a lack of organization throughout the squad that cost those three goals. So, I actually, don’t blame the players. I think Wenger is to blame for the poor preparation, lack of organization, and for the poor fitness of Elneny and whomever else he is deciding to say lacked the fitness to play for 63 minutes**.
The positive side of me says that Ramsey, Elneny, and Coquelin are fine players. They are more than capable backups in the Arsenal system. The question then isn’t “can they” but rather “can Wenger get them ready to play together if need be?”
It’s like this. Every day. Every single time I think about Arsenal I get bipolar thoughts. It’s enough to drive a man to read Peirce.
*After the 1-0 loss to Chelsea on January 24th, in which Mertesacker was handed a red card he made just six Premier League appearances and was on the bench as an unused sub seven times. That’s Arsenal’s captain being dropped.
**Ramsey??? Because if that’s who that comment is targeted toward, holy crap.